My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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medical marijuana

Today, the FDA issued a statement saying that there is no scientific proof that medical marijuana helps patients better than other prescription drugs. This infuriates me. In 1994, i broke my neck. I was given valium (and a lot of other things) and became extremely addicted to it. I was in a constant fog. To make matters worse, it made my body unable to register pain so when i tossed and turned at night, i made everything worse. I kept losing vision and hearing, even while drugged out of my mind. Weening off of valium was hell and i was super resentful towards the medical establishment for getting me addicted to it. Without valium, the pain was brutal, but i refused to go back on that evil drug.

In 1996, after extensive research, i decided to try using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Whenever the pain got unbearable, i smoked a small amount and went to sleep. I didn’t toss and turn; i didn’t wake up groggy; i didn’t get addicted; i didn’t lose vision and hearing. Well-rested, i was able to develop an exercise process that strengthened the supporting muscles, relieving the pain more permanently. Because i was not in a painless daze, this process was far more beneficial than the physical therapy i did while addicted to valium. Because i was able to heal and strengthen, i was able to stop smoking. As i realized the difference this made, i became rabidly agry at the medical system (having no insurance didn’t help).

Today, i smoke marijuana rarely, and only when the pain is really dreadful. Sure, i could’ve stayed addicted to valium to kill the pain – i’m sure the FDA and pharmaceuticals would’ve prefered that. But i chose to take a different path, an illegal one, and i don’t regret it. I genuinely believe that marijuana saved me from more extensive long-term pain and from years of being dazed.

There is a reason that healers have used marijuana for centuries. It is a natural plant with medicinal qualities. The side effects are minimal compared to FDA-approved drugs. But the problem is that you don’t need a bloated pharmaceutical apparatus to use marijuana for treatment. (Translation: there’s no money for the pharms in it and they are big lobbyists.)

It royally sucks that i have to feel like a criminal for using natural plants to heal while there’s nothing criminal about the $600+ i spent per month getting addicted to an FDA-approved drug. I hope that one day we’ll look back on this move with cultural condescension at how foolish and greedy the FDA was in the early 21st century.

now let’s get talking reefer madness
like some arrogant government can’t
by any stretch of the imagination
outlaw a plant
yes, their supposed authority over nature
is a dream
c’mon people
we’ve got to come clean
Ani

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29 comments to medical marijuana

  • Michael Chui

    To be absolutely fair, some people HAVE gotten addicted to marijuana. It’s possible, and it’s no better than an addiction to anything else. Granted, I don’t know any particulars of anything, but marijuana definitely does have addictive qualities that ARE worth some oversight and education.

    That said, banning it outright is stupid, but exactly the kind of thing the government would do.

  • Bru

    I don’t know much about addictions, well perhaps to virtual worlds and the like, but I wanted to de-lurk for once just to tell you how much I appreciate the way you write “naturally” and straightly about your life. I always find apophenia full of bright insights and sources of inspiration, probably your language (together with your hat of course) is part of the magic.

  • B

    ” – And what is your secret?
    – I steal the medicinal marijuana from my kid.”

    — See two posts earlier.

  • Just like there’s no scientific proof about global warming, evolution, and whether W really is a sophisticated ventriloquist’s dummy.

    If this Administration was running things in the 1960s there wouldn’t be scientific proof that smoking is tied to cancer, either.

    In point of fact, the lack of so-called scientific proof is a matter of lack of research, not a demonstration of lack of efficacy. Sad that even the FDA doesn’t distinguish between the two. Sadder still (on a related, but slightly off, topic) that there is no recognition that when it comes to societal problems, alcohol is orders of magnitude more dangerous than marijuana (especially if the latter was decriminalized and sold through licensed and regulated dealers; most of the societal problems with MJ are due to the necessity of dealing with criminals to obtain it. Anyone remember Prohibition?)

  • > some people HAVE gotten addicted to marijuana

    Really?! I’ve never met or even heard of a marijuana addict. I’ve met people who use it more than they should, like an alocholic uses alcohol too much, but they don’t develop a physical dependency like you do with valium, percoset, heroin, cocain etc.

  • Michael Chui

    > Really?! I’ve never met or even heard of a marijuana addict. I’ve met people who use it more than they should, like an alocholic uses alcohol too much, but they don’t develop a physical dependency like you do with valium, percoset, heroin, cocain etc.

    My source is my ex-girlfriend, who says that even though there isn’t a physical addiction — which there isn’t — there’s a mental addiction, which is just as bad.

    Granted, I don’t have any scientific proof either. ^_^

  • Nicely written piece. I just wrote something similar after reading the same article on CNN. While I never had an injury like you ( I used it more recreationaly) I was able to stop with little problem. Trust me, it was alot easier to quit than tobacco (which I smoked for almost the same amount of time).

  • randomtruth

    I would surmise that you cannot name a drug, food, drink or activity that doesn’t have atleast a fringe group of people addicted to it. Sex, pain, shopping, gambling, skydiving, video gaming, diet coke, ice cream, chocolate, vitamins, aspirin and even blogging (heh).

    I.e., there may very well be a set of people that become “addicited” to marijuana, but it is a very small number of people, is not a physical addiction, and it probably doesn’t really hurt those people or anyone else (especially when compared to many of the other addicitons that people can acquire).

    The government, of course, can’t and won’t advertise these facts. I actually find it very funny that to support their position that “marijuana is bad” (to be said in the voice of Mr. Mackey from South Park), the government needs to spin a report that marijuana is no better than legal pharms (for which addiction and other side effects are acceptable because they’re legal). I mean, if that’s the best they can do, then it kinda tells you that marijuana is probably better!

  • I’m pretty much addicted to soccer and quite often I hurt myself and other people on the field. But I hardly think we should outlaw sports.

    Now soccer does have a redeeming quality. Fitness and health. But so does Marijuana, the real medical benefits proven in study after study outside of the big pharma lobbyists reach.

    Of course, this is not a physical addiction (such as with Valium) which is much more powerful because it is added on top of any mental addiction.

  • The real shame about this “war on some drugs” is that it’s often easier for teenagers to get weed (or extasy or meth or whichever drug du jour) than it is for them to get cigarettes. “Just Say No” and “D.A.R.E.” mostly sow distrust for the government/parents than rational decision-making.

  • Stephen Trichter

    see http://www.maps.org for details on the uphill clinical research battle to see if marijuana has medicinal value

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for writing about this. This story is hard for me to tell for professional and legal reasons–and not even one I’ve told on my own website yet, thus the anonymous submission.

    I suffer an extremely genetic disorder that has no treatment and no cure. I will be in extreme pain every day for the rest of my life.

    The medical establishment (HMO) has been very happy to ply me with vicodin, valium, oxycontin, oxycodone, percoset, and even methadone. But medicinal marijuana? No way. _That’s_ bad. Right now I’m at the point where I’m taking liver-damaging amounts of a drug–just so I can make it through the day without crying each and every second. They think that’s fine, but are offering me one more solution–a permanent morphine pump implanted in my spine. How, exactly, is that better? I am striving to find someone in my area to help me at least try medicinal marijuana for my condition. Enough people have had success with it that for someone like me, who is going to be in pain pretty much forever, isn’t it worth a try?

  • OK*SF

    To Anonymous:

    Come to California and use the real thing legally, or talk your doctor into letting you try a course of Marinol (dronabinol) which is THC. It’s now a schedule III drug, so it can be prescribed for off-label uses like pain.

    I get it for my severe and frequent migraine headaches (alongside Esgic and Vicodin HP), but I had to educate my doctor before she would give it to me (all her info was out of date).

    Because I live in CA, I also have access to medicinal quality cannabis supplied by the many clubs here in San Francisco, but it’s nice to have the Marinol for when I travel outside the state.

    Marinol doesn’t work as well as the real thing, but it still works somewhat and allows me to take less of my other meds than I would have to otherwise.

    A helpful hint: I don’t swallow them–I bite them and let them dissolve under my tongue.

    EDUCATE YOUR DOCTOR!!!

  • Matthew

    I am addicted to marijuana,
    http://www.spencerrecovery.com/marijuana-addiction.html

    explains it perfectly, it starts as saying its something i want to do because i like it…overtime it will be more than this and you wont notice until you try and quit that you cant sleep/eat properly and the only thing in your mind is skinning up.
    The only reason i smoke is because of that feeling i get, first rip of a bong.

    However marijuana addiction doesnt last that long and is all in the mind so after about 3/4weeks you can get off the stuff back to normal, its just those 3weeks that are a killer.

  • Smokeless

    I was addicted and MENTALlY dependant on marijuana. I felt I needed the Bong in the morning and the one hitter through out the day. However being a COLLEGE STUDENT and beign STONED 99% of the time I maintained a A- G.P.A. However I will say that it was a bigger pain to stop smoking ciggarettes than it was marijuana. I have not smoked pot in a year ciggarettes in 5, I still crave for a NASTY ciggarette whereas I have no craving whatsoever of marijuana, and I have a heavy pot smoker for a hubby. My point If ya gotta smoke, smoke pot! And if I had to ingest 2nd hand smoke,I would rather it be marijuana. God Bless.

  • eric

    Hi,
    I had to quit smoking over 10 years ago because I began to actually breakout from pot !! It was not until I went to a herbologist that said that since I suffered from hayfever,smoking it was causing the breakouts.
    I quit,zits disappeared.First point being I was able to quit with no problems thus I was not addicted.In 2005 at age 41 and HIV+ for 24 years,I began to lose weight.No big deal,just had to eat more ,problem was,I had no appetite.
    I asked my doctor to put me on minocyclin FOREVER and now I can alternate between Marinols and pot.
    I missed the pot after 10years and started being “cannabis dependant”.Now I am kind of bored being stoned all day.
    I also suffer from Post Herpetic Neuralgia,a chronic condition due to Herpes Zoster and I will not take percosets or vicodins for the reasons above.
    The pot works wonders for the pain and I can sleep peacefully….I have put on 11 pounds of muscle and am taking my minocine.I had to go of the minocine for a while and take an antibiotic that was not for skin conditions…I BROKE OUT !!
    As soon as I started the minocin,clear skin !!
    Marijuana….used and not abused is a wonder of nature !!! GOD BLESS !!! ERIC,NYC

  • crystal lawson

    i am 50 years old. i have smoked marijuana since i was 14. originally for the high it produced. Now i smoke it for medical. i have suffered from depression most of my life. i now have severe problems with my lower back. i wish everyone would read Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures They Don’t Want You To Know About. How were being poisoned by pharmaceutical drugs. Drugs that are known to be dangerous allowed to be sold, prescribed because of money and power. Not for the people. i also recomend everyone watches new release of movie V for Vendetta. Are the People important anymore? No. Money and power and greed have taken over our society. i gave my life to Jesus smoking a joint, and smoking marijuana has only increased my relationship with God. Marijuana has kept me from going over the edge mentally so many times. The side effects of antinflamatory, muscle relaxers and vicodin (i have had a prescription for over the last 10 plus years), have a lot worse side effects on me then pot. I prefer something naturally grown then any pharmecuetical drug. I believe its best not to use any drugs if possible, but i’d recomend pot use over any pharmecutical drug any day. Kevin Trudeau used to be one of the top Dawgs? i guess you could say, and was the fall guy, went to prison, and made a decision he wasn”t going to make money killing people with drugs any more. His goal now is to provide the largest web site for alternative medicines. Please read his book. It’s up to the people to decide what’s best sometimes i believe because we each know our own bodies, better than doctors who “quote” are practicing medicine. i don’t even know if they truly know what they’re being taught. Anyways i am definitely pro medical marijuana as one who has used or been prescribed too many pharmecuetical drugs. The government is money and power oriented, the pharmecuetical companies make billions of dollars over prescriptions they know ahead of time will kill people. Research the drug vioxx, killed over 100,00 people, but they aren’t considered terrorists. What’s going on in this country that once believed in God? i am at a loss as to why God has blessed this country for so many years, when this country is taking Him out of everything. May we all wake up to the truth…… Sincerely in Christ, Crys from California

  • GEORGE DOYLE

    MY NAME IS GEORGE D. I AM NOW 35 YRS OLD AND WAS IN A VERY SERIOUS CAR ACCIDENT WHERE I WAS BRAIN INJURED AS A RESULT.I GREW UP ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVING A FATHER IN THE MILITARY.I RARELY GET RELIEF FROM MY BRAIN INJURY UNLESS OF COURSE I FEEL LIKE COMMITING A CRIME AND SMOKING THAT VERY DANGEROUS WEED CALLED MARIJUANA. YOU KNOW WHAT, MY LIFE IS PRETTY MUCH GONE SO I WILL NOW PUT ALL OF MY TIME INTO THIS CAUSE. I’M NOT ONE TO BRAG BUT BEING AS YOUR NOT ABLE TO SEE ME OVER THE COMPUTER I HAVE ONE ASSET THAT STANDS OUT THAT WILL FOR SURE FAVOR ME IN THIS CAUSE,FOR ONE I’VE BEEN TOLD BY ABOUT A HALF-A-MILLION PEOPLE IN THE WORLD THAT I HAVE A PERSONALITY THAT YOU NEVER FORGET. THANK GOD THAT MY LOOKS WERE NOT TAKEN AWAY FROM ME IN THIS ACCIDENT, ONE OF MY BIGGEST ASSETS ARE MY LOOKS, ALSO BEEN TOLD BY MANY GIRLS THAT I MIGHT BE THE BEST LOOKING GUY THEY HAVE EVER SEEN IN THIER LIFE. (YOU KNOW HOW MANY GUYS TALK?….I LAUGH AT ABOUT %99.00 OF THESE GUYS)I BELIEVE WITHOUT A DOUBT THAT MY LOOKS AND PERSONALITY WILL MAKE ME A VERY GOOD ROLE MODEL FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND ITS COMPLETE BENEIFITS AND INCREDIBLEY SAFETY. ANYONE CAN HELP……NEVER, NEVER, NEVER HAVE I NOT RETURNED REWARDED PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE THINGS FOR ME. ANYONE CAN HELP?

    0

  • myspace.com/ri0ts or search myspace music for R.I.O.T.S.

    It is my band. This also helps with facts of marijuana.

  • myspace.com/ri0ts or search myspace music for R.I.O.T.S.

    It is my band. This also helps with facts of marijuana.

  • Anthony

    Hello,
    My name is Anthony.I’ve been smoking weed since I was 11.It’s opened my mind and made me more creative.I get depressed alot and it helps with that also.I do not think it’s an addictive drug,I think its an emotional drug.And I know it helped alot of people with their problems.Right now I do alot of art and I couldn’t do it withought my grass!!!Thanks for reading this Anthony G

  • John White

    I have to say that i just hope whoever wrote this article is in peace, i know first hand that marijuana is extremely addictive but then i also know that personality is a large part of this

  • Honestly, I do not know why people are making such a big deal about marijuana. There are so many worse things out there in this world, why are we making such a big deal on this one. And then there are people that are claiming that it can be used for medical purposes. And still, people are trying to cut them off at the pass as well. There are a lot more harmful drugs out there that are being prescribed to people and they are not being made a big deal out of. Why don’t people start focusing on the big problems in the world? For starts, why not global warming? If we do not do something to stop this soon, then there will be no world and none of this would even matter at all. People should just see that it is not a big deal and leave people alone when it comes to marijuana.

  • SmAcKeMuP

    im was addicted to weed, i had drug tests all the time and if i came up dirty i would go to jail but i did it anyway,if anyone had it i would smoke it but i could stop from buying it so its probably only as addictive as LSD cuz you like it(reality) better than not being high. i love the smell and taste too and its fun to watch crappy movies with 😀

  • SmAcKeMuP

    im was addicted to weed, i had drug tests all the time and if i came up dirty i would go to jail but i did it anyway,if anyone had it i would smoke it but i could stop from buying it so its probably only as addictive as LSD cuz you like it(reality) better than not being high. i love the smell and taste too and its fun to watch crappy movies with 😀

  • I can still remember a friend who was also advised by her doctor to take valium. Since both of us were chemists we refused to follow the doctor’s prescription and looked for a lesser evil alternative. My friend was lucky because an increased dosage of Mefenamic Acid helped her throughout her painful journey. In the end, although it was a bit longer than when she took Valium, she was cured.

  • JDOG

    People have also gotten adiicted to coffee, Marijuana is the only ilegal drug of type I drug that isn’t as addictive. Plus, you can’t get an overdose on cannabis, and I’m sure that Valium is severly harmful for your health. This way….
    Legalize it!

  • jake

    MARIJUANA? ADDICTIVE? let me tell u people something.. ANYTHING can be addicting. u can be addicted 2 porn, so yeah, u CAN be addicted 2 weed. but weed is NOT physically addictive. i can smoke weed everday for months n stop for a week if i happen 2 run out of money or if my dealers r dry or somethin but i dont worry bout it like.. oh say, cigarettes. cigarettes r addicting. LEGALIZE FREEDOM